Jacob was floating. He’d pushed the stasis button – they’d been surrounded and they had to get away! – and the gravity had cut out. Funny. He hadn’t been aware that happened on planets. He’d thought it was just starships. Everyone else except Khadim was holding still of course – so he went to look outside and see how many people they were going to have to find a way past when he unpressed the button – and there wasn’t anything. Just a swirl of weird lights and such. He could still feel the universe – but it felt like it was a long ways away in a very odd direction, and like all of it was just the same distance away? It kind of felt like it did when he was visiting another universe.
But there was NOTHING outside. That was BAD. Had they wound up in a universe that hadn’t been created yet?
Perhaps Ben had finally done something that destroyed the universe? He’d have to ask him what was going on. He went over and unpressed the stasis button. That got everyone else awake again – but it made him feel kind of stressed and tired. Like he had when he was inside the black hole.
Ben took a look outside – and for a moment the thought that he might have found a way to destroy the entire universe at a stroke The part of his brain that was obsessed with superweapons put in a resounding cheer at that point before he firmly suppressed it again.
So… It looked like hyperspace – but like hyperspace might look if you weren’t traveling through it. Still, if they were unprotected in hyperspace, they should be losing air, and be disintegrating within a few minutes – and the air might be a tad thinner perhaps, but there was no sign of the building disintegrating. Couldn’t be hyperspace then.
He organized a search of he warehouse for anything else which was active and might have contributed to the effect.
Alys was less concerned about the theory – or how they’d get back. It wasn’t like she could do much about that. The fact that the air was gradually getting thin was quite another matter… She had a supply of breath masks of course – it would be idiotic to go around with this bunch without survival supplies – but that wouldn’t last indefinitely.
It didn’t take her long to realize that the timerate was varying with distance from Jacob; the further anyone got from him, the slower time went for them. At least that offered them a way to stretch her supply of breath masks… She sent most of the resistance members they had along to watch the perimeter.
They couldn’t find anything else in the place – or at least anything but normal warehouse systems – that had been active when Jacob pressed the button. Ben had been dismantling a hypermine, and so hadn’t even been running an experiment.
Wait… could he have been distracted enough with the police shouting at them to have let the capacitors discharge through hypercoils all at once? It would have been just like a hyperbeacon; enough power to oscillate them into hyperspace for a few microseconds – but without a drive or a hull they’d just have been locked into the local gravitational field, and so they wouldn’t actually go anywhere. They’d have lost some atmosphere around the edges of the field, but they’d have phased back in before there could be any real consequences. It would have been quite a coincidence for Jacob to hit the button just as his muscles had twitched – but Jacob had much faster reflexes…
If they’d been oscillating into hyperspace for a few microseconds just as the stasis field came on… and Jacob was providing the time… then…the stasis field could be extending the duration of the oscillation. They were out of sync with normal time, since the stasis field was interacting with the hyperfield, but Jacob was providing time for them to experience, and the molecules at the outer fringes of the field would be acting as a hull of sorts, since they weren’t experiencing time – and so were hard to move; there was no time for the air to escape in.
Given the expected duration of the hyperfield and the time-extension of the stasis-field… They should be phasing back in to reality in about… 30 to 60 hours according to Jacob.
Who didn’t keep a timepiece. Also, there was no way of knowing what had been moved into the space they had been occupying while they were away, or what orientation they might be in, or whether the oscillation would continue.
It would be best for Jacob and Khadim to stay in the center, and the rest of them to be around the edges; that way they could conserve their airmasks and disembark – automatically if they were leaning against the edge of the field or starting to fall out of it in near-stasis – as soon as they phased back into normal space. Besides… who knew what would be out there after two days? They could be surrounded by Sith troops.
They got set up and settled in for a few minutes wait while Jacob and Khadim spent the hours being very bored and packing all of their more important gear into the van with the stasis generator and rigging up the other van – the one he’d fitted with a spacefighter engine – to launch as a diversion when they arrived. Got back? Whatever.
If they got back.
Fortunately, he didn’t need any air…
Meanwhile, back in normal space, Kira and Lazlo were trying to explain things to the police – and had reached the point where they were being promised limited cooperation; the planetary security forces felt some obligation to cooperate with agents of the republic and the Jedi.
With Officer Olson “satisfied” with my explanations, it was back to determining how much my plans were impacted by the latest snafu. I could no longer rely on Ben to build the necessary stasis systems since I had no idea when he and the others might return if ever. At this point the resistance would have enough stasis systems to capture the shield generators but not the various agents of Zandaras running around or vice versa. Personally, I gave the acquisition of the shield generators higher priority than capturing some politicians.
Still, a bunch of politicians could make a lot of trouble in trying to organize the defense of the planet, especially since the vast majority of the population wouldn’t realize what was going on until it was all largely over. Alright, I gave directions for some of the more technical types in the resistance to disassemble one of the stasis systems to learn how to copy the design. That should be easier than just building it from scratch at least. Hopefully they can make enough more to ensure that we can capture all targets of value during the initial assault.
Now to figure out how to get those fleets Shipwreck had found operational enough to use in liberating the planet.
At that point my communicator informed me that messages were waiting for me on the Codex Channel Forums. Looking those up, it appeared the asteroids were being chased around the Oort Cloud by several major ships. Thus far they had managed to evade capture, but were not going to be able to keep that up indefinitely even with Handell’s piloting skills. Strangely the enemy ships were only concerned with the Zomogoostar, the Ratsoogomoz, and the Peace of Alderaan. The Shard of Devastation was largely being ignored. Considering several plans, sending them after the derelict fleets was asking for the Sith to find them too, as was following most any other hyperspace route given the precognition being demonstrated.
I could just imagine Ben suggesting grabbing a black hole to use as either a shield or to move the derelict fleets with, but I was not keen on demonstrating that it was even possible to move black holes using a hyperdrive. About the only way to shake pursuit would be to go somewhere the Sith would not follow. Those types of destinations were few and far between given that I wanted the asteroids to survive as well. That left the asteroids returning to Republic space and the Republic fleet around Alderaan. But that put them out of communication for far longer than I really wanted. Especially if I wanted to get those derelict fleets operational to liberate the planet.
Wait a minute, the Shard of Devastation was not being paid attention to. Ergo, it could move about unimpeded by the Sith. So it could go to the Furipede world, pick up a load of Furipedes and begin work on repairing the derelict fleets. It didn’t have the manufacturing facilities of the asteroids, but it was still better than nothing at this rate.
I gave orders to the asteroids to return to Alderaan and for the Shard of Devastation to grab some Furipedes and to begin repair work on the derelict fleets. They acknowledged the orders and informed me that Xiang was on her way planetside before departing. Apparently the Sith formally challenged Xiang to a duel hoping she would bring the asteroids towards the planet. Instead she grabbed one of the bounty hunter ships, loaded it with antimatter warheads and was heading this direction at top speed.
Oh bloody hell.
All thoughts along those lines were thrown to the side as notice came from the security forces that the Sith were demanding explanations regarding the warehouse incident. At this point the security forces were largely telling the truth with the omission that Lazlo and I were involved. Damn it, I really didn’t need the attention of the occupation right now. Trying to coordinate the initial strike was hard enough without all these nutjobs actively trying to top each other in who can create the most insanity.
Perhaps it was fortunate that Lazlo had already left; for good or ill, he didn’t feel that fooling around with the security forces would be either productive or wise as long as the planet was occupied; it was such an obvious place for the Sith to monitor. He went to have another look at the crater; maybe one of the scientific types poking around there would come up with something.
Not that he necessarily wanted Ben and Jacob back, but he’d miss Alys and Khadim.
Unfortunately, the scientists were recording a lot of data – which meant nothing much to him – but didn’t have a clue.
Damn it. Maybe he needed Ben after all. The man was infuriating, and obsessed with insane superweapons, and absurdly reckless – but he ALWAYS had a theory and some notion of what to do about it. He wasn’t from the school of “science” that had simply devoted millennia after millennia to simply cataloging minor variations and fitting them into theories that predated the Republic!
The security forces tried to stall as best they could while I gathered what information I could about the Sith doing the questioning while listening in. It was clear to me that there seemed to be two distinct groups of Sith involved. One appeared to be the classic HoloSith type under Zandaras’s direction. The other was a bit harder to place though, they did seem interested more in the technical aspects of the warehouse incident though and that worried me. If these were Artificers, and I really hoped they weren’t, then they were going to be really interested in all the damned superweapon designs Ben keeps cooking up.
Thankfully the Codex allowed me to hide myself from Force users in a way Valerie could only dream of until recently. I couldn’t feel any Force probing for me, and by extension that largely meant I wasn’t detectable to them. Well unless they were actively searching for voids in the Force, which I doubt they knew to look for. Discretion was going to be key going forward. Eventually the security forces managed to appease the Sith with promises to inform them immediately if something new developed.
Unfortunately, something did. The warehouse dropped back into time – and Ben and company wound up landing at the feet of one of the groups of technical types (and the accompanying police) who’d been examining the area and speculating. This led to a prompt “hold it! What the hell is going on!” from the police and many excited questions from the technical types that the group did not want to answer – although the technical types did grab Ben’s notebooks.
The van taking off for the sky at thirty gravities was a decent diversion (even if it was over way too fast, and was too obviously out of reach to divert the police for long)- but Ben was busy arguing with the technical types – and answring questions from the police – to take advantage of it. In fact, Ben was more annoyed at Jacob then the police; now they wanted that van explained too! Sometimes he just wanted to KILL Jacob!
Oh well, at least it kept him from falling to the light side.
Jacob was both pleased and disappointed with the van; it had been far too fast be very successful – but it HAD worked just fine, despite Kira and Lazlo! He’d have to make another one, but with better power level control! That would be all kinds of fun!
He tried rushing out and knocking over the police next – but missed one, who promptly demanded that he take off his armor and surrender. Given that Ben and Alys weren’t escaping, he went ahead and demonstrated that there was no one in his armor – which still didn’t cause too much disruption. It just got the cops yelling about “Artificers”. He ran back over to the building and started spinning it before climbing back inside; it took a really bit push to get it started, but the near-frictionless surfaces that the transfer had left behind made it possible.
Once inside he turned up the stasis radius to maximum, and hid. There was bound to be one scientist who would be unable to resist going inside and pushing the big button.
That put everyone except him and Khadim into stasis except him of course… They loaded up the stasis field generator and the last of their important gear in the new van, and got the others loaded in (on the roof, since there was no more room inside the van) and couldn’t resist; he tied up the fellow who’d pushed the button and then briefly popped him in and out of the field for an instant a few times to confuse things before parking him somewhere else. Surely anyone would believe that Ben would build a machine that tied people up and then teleported them to a random spot nearby!
With Khadim on the roof with Ben and Alys, Jacob drove away – and turned off the stasis field once they were in the city undertunnels. For good or ill, they also picked up Lazlo – who’d been on the other side of the building, where the van had erupted through the wall, and had been caught in stasis while he was busy digging scientists out of the rubble.
Ben and Alys, who nearly got creamed by the low tunnel ceilings, were not so pleased. Neither were the city maintenance personnel, who were dealing with a plague of most peculiar failures. The one-and-off, massive radius, stasis field was calling massive service disruptions and failures, numerous accidents, and much weirdness. To evade pursuit, they decided to park the van at a diner – which made Jacob REALLY miss being able to eat – and split up to go to ground.
Unfortunately, something did develop as I got anxious calls from Chief Olson informing me that the warehouse was now back and he felt the rest of the group was insane. My attempts to look pained and frustrated did not get me the sympathy I really wanted though. I, unfortunately was on the far side of the city and wasn’t going to be able to get there in time to limit the majority of the damage. I did trade out the color changing robes for loose fitting slacks, hoodie and some black hair dye before climbing aboard my speeder and moving to the growing disaster scene.
A question from Security regarding several of Ben’s notebooks they had found really concerned me. When I asked if they had also found a red notebook covered with all sorts of warning labels, they told me that had indeed found one and what of it. My calls for them to incinerate it immediately were promptly ignored as “destroying evidence”. Damn it, no one seems to want to listen to me when the stakes are high, but they all seem to be perfectly willing to when I am not even remotely telling the truth. And if the Sith gets their hands on the notebook full of superweapon designs, then I am going to be blamed for it too.
About halfway there I saw an explosion and what appeared to be a delivery van well on it’s way to orbit as it accelerated on an upwards arc. Probability analysis of the arc showed that it would just barely miss the bridge tower of the capital ship in orbit as it rushed by. Then came a steady stream of chaos and confusion over the security frequencies as I can only presume the party made their escape from Security. Reports of a black dome wandering the city and disappearing into the tunnels below suggested to me that Jacob was up to his usual tricks again. Damn it, this was not the time to be showing off unusual technology given who I suspected was in orbit!
Security lost track of the black dome once it went below ground and got distracted with reports of utilities failing all across the city. I was against the idea of sending messages to them for fear of the signals getting tracked by the Sith who were undoubtedly now paying serious attention to the events going on here. My suspicions were confirmed when it was announced over the security channel that Sith were now coming to the city to oversee the investigation and capture of resistance elements.
Damn it all.
Finally arriving at the warehouse location, I saw the security forces now in conversation with one of the Sith teams. The warehouse itself was back in place, but now was spinning silently of all things. One of the Sith was scanning the warehouse with fascination written all over his face with another one questioning the police. There was also a squad of Sith soldiers setting up a perimeter with the assistance of a large number of battle droids. Reports over the security frequencies indicated this group was only one of at least three. So three to four groups with one or two Sith apiece, ten to twenty soldiers each, and twenty to forty battle droids each. Worst case then of eight Sith, eighty soldiers, and a hundred and sixty battle droids in this city alone.
That is way too much firepower to take on with the resources we have available. And I have the sneaking suspicion that eliminating one of these groups will have serious consequences for the escalation of the occupation. We need to go to ground and quickly before one of us was found and caught.
I started to quietly follow the squad from afar while taking great care to shield more Force presence with the Codex. I was about half a kilometer from the squad I was following when a rock smacked me in the head from behind. That stung quite a bit and it took a great deal of effort to avoid crying out loud from the pain. Turning around I saw six teenagers holding rocks, clubs, and small blasters looking at me with the sense of assuredness only teenagers who didn’t know any better could muster. Apparently even with the street clothes and the dyed hair, I was readily recognized by the locals as Ayshan Vascud. As pleased as I was with the identity holding even some water, I was not real happy that these kids chose now of all times to pull this.
Then it registered to me that the group looked vaguely familiar. Strange, I hadn’t met any of them and none of them looked like the hypertime kid Ben had found. Then it struck me: four male and two female teenagers, all probably trouble makers in some fashion. Probably with more courage than sense to be picking on a supposed Sith in a dark alley. I had a sudden flashback to Alderaan, but quickly pushed that aside as irrelevant. Right, I need to nip this attitude in the butt before it gets these kids killed.
Stepping into hypertime, I ripped the weapons out of their hands, knocked them all to the ground, pointed away from the other Sith, and said a single word.
They all took off running in the direction I pointed like I intended. Luckily it didn’t seem like the Sith squad heard them screaming as they took off, but I now had to try and discreetly regain line of sight to the squad as it had moved onwards. Trying to take the notebook or destroy it was going to be damn near impossible given these odds. About the best I was going to be able to accomplish was getting killed or captured by the Sith. There had to be something I could do though.
Breaking up and going to ground had not worked out well for everyone else.
Jacob had stashed the van and repainted his armor as a disguise – but had accidently run into a Sith search party; he’d tried to bluff them with his empty armor, and it hadn’t worked; they’d just opened fire when he’d tried to escape, and he’d barely gotten away with damage.
Well, looking back on it, even he had to admit that his explanations had been pretty poor. Wait! There was still a way to hide! All he had to do was pretend that he’d been in the armor, but was invisible without it, and disassemble himself and wait for the others to pick him up and put him back together!
Alys dropped by a cantina, and promptly found that it was hosting a throughly incompetent resistance cell – who first fumbled keeping their secrets from strangers, then the attempt to drug her, then the attempt to be threatening. She wound up more-or-less taking command and recruiting them to join the serious resistance. They hadn’t joined the actual resistance before due to a confused notion that it might be best to shoot all force-users early, because a rival gang had joined, and because they’d heard that the groups resistance was out to devastate the planet with the plague to the point where the Sith wouldn’t want to get near the place.
Ben ran into an ambush in an alleyway – perhaps getting themselves all over the news as Sith Lords had not been a good idea – and the locals tried to blow him up (and one dropped a grenade at his own feet). He used the force to toss the grenades high enough to be relatively harmless, and sent the would-be ganger resistance home; they were frightened enough when they realized that their target wasn’t just a Sith hanger-on.
Lazlo was the only one who actually managed to avoid getting into trouble.
Meanwhile, back with Kira – who had been diligently trying to trace them down, and had managed to recover the van full of gear…
I had just about caught up with them again when Alys came over the commlink trying to get a head count. That showed most everyone present, if a bit scattered, except that Jacob was currently missing and not responding.
Oh god damn it.
I swear, if we get out of this alive, I am delivering an ultimatum. Jacob better stop destroying our equipment and attracting Sith attention at every opportunity and this superweapon obsession of Ben’s stops now or else people are going to be left behind. The stakes are too high now and too many powerful people are after us to keep this cheery nonsense up.
At that moment an All Points Bulletin went out over the security channel with an armored fellow matching Jacob’s description being hunted down in a section of town not too far away. I was seriously considering abandoning him right there and then. A good number of the other party members were beginning to agree with that assessment too. Then Ben piped up with the fact that Jacob knew too much of our plans for liberating the planet for us to allow him to be captured. That meant we had to rescue him then.
Luckily I had the Codex to draw on because I was getting really ticked right now. Running through the Jedi meditations Telera taught me calmed me down quickly enough and we went back to damage control. Ben’s precognition trick narrowed down the part of the city we needed to search to a couple square blocks. It also warned him against trying to rescue Jacob directly. Running a probability analysis on the idea showed high probability of getting caught if we tried. So it seemed likely that the Sith knew where he was as well and were laying in wait.
Trying different approaches to Jacob’s location, analyzing the odds, and comparing with Ben’s precognition revealed three probable ambush teams set up to cover different approaches. About the only approach I could calculate that had any chance of getting to Jacob and getting away again was going underground in one of the sewer tunnels and cutting a hole under him. Eh, running around in the sewers carrying Jacob was a recipe for getting cornered quickly. I couldn’t carry him into hypertime with me as his atavism is more powerful than my hypertime ability too.
That left trying to escape on a speeder bike and navigating the tunnels at high speed. If I tried to steer in hypertime, I would either drag the bike with me or melt the handles. That meant doing things the old fashioned way. I didn’t have the raw Force power needed to match Handell’s piloting ability, but maybe there was something I could do to at least give me a significant leg up on them. During my training with Alternate Valerie, she had taught me how to plot routes using the Codex to analyze paths. That was a major game changer in and off itself, but that could be used with Force intuitive navigation to improve my performance considerably.
I briefly hazarded tapping into the Force long enough to verify that I could use the intuitive navigation and the probability navigation at the same time. It looked like I could use them both at the same time, but that gave no indication how well the two would work together. I didn’t have enough time to practice and find out either.
Ben, Alys, and Lazlo were throwing out proposals and Ben and I evaluated them all in turn. We did eventually determine that something was putting us under a time limit if we wanted to rescue Jacob, but it was difficult to determine what. Lazlo and Ben came up with their own proposals for distractions, which didn’t hurt our odds, but didn’t help as much as I think they thought. Alys eventually decided to join me and work on covering fire and carrying Jacob while I piloted the speeder.
What really surprised me was that the Sith seemed to be after Ben and I almost exclusively. They wanted to capture Ben alive for what we surmised had to be the superweapon designs. They weren’t as big into capturing me alive though although they wouldn’t mind the chance to. That was more surprising than anything. I would have thought my unusual talents more valuable than that. Maybe these really are Artificers and they are as single minded as Ben is. I swear, if Jacob has led them to one of the stasis system caches, there won’t be anyone able to find all the pieces to his armor once I am done with him.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to find anything better to try and now we had to find out if we could pull off yet another miracle.
Jacob, meanwhile, was not feeling so well… He’d been feeling sort of… disassociated… recently, and this was making it worse. Weakness and fatigue should have gone with his human body. He’d left a note that said “Find Me Now!” with a picture of a naked man running down the street followed by “Whoo! I am invisible!” before disassembling himself, but now he wasn’t sure how long he was going to be able to hold out.
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 41 from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 40 from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 39 from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)